No one is going to be shocked when told that YouTube is a popular website. The site currently averages 147.2 million unique monthly visitors, according to comScore, beating out virtually every other online video service on the Web. Video views on YouTube are up to three billion a day, compared to eight million a day back in 2005. What is surprising is that video sharing sites like YouTube continue to grow in popularity—so much so that even rural Internet users are now just as likely as urban and suburban Internet users to have visited these sites, according to a report from The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.
A full 71% of American Internet users use video-sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo, representing an increase of five percentage points over last year, when 66% of users visited such sites. Interestingly, despite limited broadband reach, 68% of rural Internet users visit these sites, compared to 71% of suburban users and 72% of urban users. The report’s author, Kathleen Moore, notes that the difference between the usage rates of rural, suburban, and urban users is not statistically significant, and it demonstrates that since 2009, rural residents have caught up with urban and suburban residence in online video viewing habits.
To put that into perspective, in 2009, 52% of urban Internet users visited video-sharing sites, compared to 57% of suburban users, while only 37% of rural users visited such sites. So while suburban users who check out sites like YouTube have climbed 14% since 2009, rural users have jumped a whopping 31%.
On any given day, a full 28% of all Internet users visit a video-sharing site, compared to 23% in 2010, and 19% in 2009. Interestingly, while the number of rural Internet users who visit these sites has climbed, only 14% do so on any given day, compared to 31% of suburban users and 33% of urban users.
“The rise of broadband and better mobile networks and devices has meant that video has become an increasingly popular part of users’ online experiences,” said the report’s author, Kathleen Moore. “People use these sites for every imaginable reason – to laugh and learn, to watch the best and worst of popular culture and to check out news. And video-sharing sites are very social spaces as people vote on, comment on, and share these videos with others.”